Written by Graham Reid, CEO at SIMEC Atlantis Energy
At SAE we have a project that will be the first in the world to repurpose an existing coal fired power station to solve three of the most pressing challenges – providing much needed additional grid capacity, moving away from primary fossil fuels and tackling the unsolved problem of non-recyclable waste. The repurposing of existing facilities has been identified by the Government as a transition technology and will be eligible for government support until 2027, they will then be able to compete in the capacity market auctions.
Previously the solution to increasing demand had seen a rise in new power stations that were more efficient than coal but still burned fossil fuels, such as gas. Although this solution provides much needed electricity to back up renewables when not generating, it still depends on fossil fuels and the extraction, shipping and burning of that fuel. When it comes to disposing of the non-recyclable waste, the UK buries it, pays other countries to take it and burn it, or builds new and expensive power stations to incinerate it.
So, is there a better way?
Two birds, one stone
This project presents a solution for not only the UK, but also has the potential to impact positively the generation of electricity on a global scale. Currently, new coal fired power stations are coming online around the world, while holes in the ground are dug deeper and deeper to bury more and more non-recyclable waste. We have worked alongside businesses from Europe and Asia and have spoken to coal plant operators around the world who see it as an economic imperative to have the option of using a sustainable fuel such as ours. I believe that we will only achieve our zero emissions objective when we recognise that we are all on the same journey, and it is up to those of us leading in the sector to explain the challenges, opportunities and the benefits of the different paths we can take in order to accelerate the journey, we are all on, together, to achieve a world with net zero emissions.
Image credit: By Robin Drayton, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5306046